Rochester’s Bug Jar music venue raises more than $20K from supporters to stay afloat

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — An online effort to keep the lights on at the iconic Bug Jar music venue on Monroe Avenue has raised more than $20,000 to pay for the venue’s rent and utilities.

The venue, which began a GoFundMe page to raise the funds, has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re in pretty dire straits around here,” said Aaron Gibalski, a co-owner of the venue. “We haven’t been open one minute of this entire situation.”

“It’s very heartwarming to see that people want to help keep this going,” added Gibalski.

With coronavirus numbers again on the rise, Gibalski is unsure when the Bug Jar, which has hosted live music since 1991, might be able to reopen.

According to the Bug Jar’s GoFundMe page, they have also applied to a group lobbying Congress to get relief to music venues. Talks continue on Capitol Hill as federal lawmakers look to pass another package of coronavirus relief.

MORE | Save the Bug Jar: Iconic Rochester music venue turns to public for support during pandemic

The Dirty Pennies, a band which has routinely played at the Bug Jar, echoed support for the venue’s GoFundMe effort. 

“The fact that it reached the $20,000 goal in such a short amount of time just goes to show how important the Bug Jar is to the Rochester scene,” said Lucas Howe, a member of the band.

The band stressed the venue’s importance to up-and-coming musicians trying to break in to the industry.

“A lot of bands are relying on small venues like Bug Jar to even survive,” said band member Ryan Klem, “to even get money for themselves to eat, and sleep.”

“It encapsulates such a large group of art, which is really, really cool,” added band member Joe Mungo.

Over the years, the Bug Jar has hosted local acts like The Dirty Pennies, King Buffalo, Overhand Sam, Mikaela Davis, Joywave and many more — as well as touring bands like The White Stripes, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, to name a few.

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